In this activity, students experiment with oil in water. They observe the effects of oil in water and then attempt to clean up the oil using various sorbents. They also observe what happens when a chemical dispersant is added to the oil in the water and have a go at cleaning oil off bird feathers.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • discuss what a sorbent is and how it works
  • identify some sorbents used for cleaning oil spills
  • discuss the pros and cons of leaving oil to disperse itself
  • explain in simple terms how chemical dispersants work on oil
  • discuss the pros and cons of chemical dispersants
  • explain why people need to clean oil off birds’ feathers after an oil spill.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • student handout.
    Published 11 January 2012